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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
56 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 1 2 it. We then see what kind of atmosphere our generosity pro- duces and how that atmosphere is more effective and powerful for our practice than an atmosphere of jealousy or competi- tiveness. One comes to realize that generosity and nonaggres- sion in one’s community and one’s family are essential and that the practice can’t be done in isolation. GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD: I think Sharon’s use of the word “pioneer” is very appropriate. In my community, we’re very involved in environmental issues and are also working to address racism and sexism. Many communities today are applying the buddhadharma directly to specific areas that affect how people live and the choices they make. And that’s very challenging because, at least within my sangha, we’re making this up as we go. There really is no template for such activity. We can’t just look back and say, what did they do about this problem before? BUDDHADHARMA: What will support such efforts? Are there traditional aspects of the Buddhist path, such as study, that could play a role? GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD: Study is extremely important; it’s what keeps us connected to the spoken dharma, the trans- mitted teachings. We hold periodic study sessions in our community, and at the moment we’re studying Shantideva’s saying, “There’s a bigger picture here. Let’s look at what that might be composed of.” BUDDHADHARMA: So what is the bigger picture? And how can we understand our meditation practice within the bigger picture? GAYLON FERGUSON: Sharon has named part of it in saying that it’s a kind of natural evolution in which the practitioner her- self or himself comes to sense that this practice needs a context and that this context can often mean community. It’s in the context of community that meritorious actions like generosity really come forth. As we consider our personal involvement, we might decide to donate money to our center or help clean RANGJUNGYESHEINSTITUTE Study is what keeps us connected to the spoken dharma, the transmitted teachings. I’m not a scholar, so we approach this as dharma study. Always in the foreground is the need to see how the teachings relate to real life. — Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Students at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Boudhanath, Nepal, study traditional Tibetan texts with Lopon Sherab Gyatso